Thursday, September 20, 2012

On daring greatly

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

The author is a Ph.D. and a social worker who swears and quotes Leonard Cohen. The thesis is that vulnerability is exquisite and courage is a function of vulnerability. She argues that instead of wrapping armor around ourselves we need to lean in to our vulnerabilities, and from there we can live wholeheartedly.

This was a thought-provoking read. She writes a lot about shame and how it's a part of the human condition but how it can drive us to isolate ourselves even as we desire more than anything else to find human connection. I wasn't sure what I'd find in agreeing to read this book, only that I was interested after seeing the author's first TED Talk.

Shame can't be eradicated, she argues, but we can build shame resilience. This idea resonated with me. We need all kinds of resilience, don't we? But I had never thought of shame resilience. As a shame researcher, Brown asserts that the shame we don't manage through resilience is what leads to broken behavior. And we all have some degree of that, so there's a lot in this book to think about.

The title comes from a Teddy Roosevelt quote about the measure of a man "who at the best knows in the end of triumph of high achievement, and, who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." It reminds me of that other quote I love, from Samuel Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." This was a meaty book and I don't think I've digested all its lessons in one reading. But I've certainly spent effort in failing better. I love the idea of learning to dare greatly. And in a few weeks, after letting this reading settle in me, I'm definitely going to read this book again.

I read this book as part of the BlogHer Book Club and was compensated for this post but the opinions are my own. Sometimes I'm paid to read books, yo.

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